If you have a flair for the dramatics, then you loved Week 12 of this NFL season as 10 games came down to one score or less.
The Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions kicked off the special week in a thriller which saw Matthew Stafford lead another game-winning drive against a dominating Vikings defense. The Dallas Cowboys controlled much of the game, but the Washington Redskins made it close throughout. The Tennessee Titans barely escaped the Matt Barkley-led Chicago Bears.
The Baltimore Ravens snuck away with a key division victory on the back of a great coaching move from Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. The Miami Dolphins continued their winning ways as they barely got away with a victory against the hapless San Francisco 49ers. And finally, the Kansas City Chiefs pulled out a white-knuckle thriller that put them a little bit closer to the AFC West crown.
There is a ton to discuss with the events of Week 12. Therefore, let’s take a look at what impressed, depressed and what should be dismissed in the latest slate of NFL games.
IMPRESSED: Atlanta Falcons offense
The Falcons continued their 2016 offensive onslaught as they were just too much for an Arizona Cardinals team that has seen its playoff hopes evaporate in front of their own eyes.
For as much as the Cardinals have struggled in 2016, they still have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Chandler Jones and Calais Campbell gives Arizona a star-studded defense that can make life difficult for any offense.
Atlanta wasn’t phased as they battered the Cardinals defense to a tune of 38 points. While Julio Jones was held mostly in check by Peterson, shifty receiver Taylor Gabriel proved to be the difference-maker. The former Cleveland Brown was electric with the ball in his hands as he housed to short Matt Ryan throws for touchdowns to along with a 27-yard reverse.
More than any other victory this week, the Falcons win had to scare the elite teams in the NFC. If the Cardinals defense can’t slow down the Falcons, then who can?
DEPRESSED: Indianapolis Andrew Lucks
It’s hard to even call Indianapolis by the Colts since they don’t look anything resembling an NFL team without their star QB. Luck missed Thanksgiving’s contest because of a concussion, and the “Colts” proceeded to get lambasted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in front of a national audience.
The Colts’ issues fall directly at the feet of general manager Ryan Grigson who has failed to put together an adequate team to go with its elite QB. While some may point to Luck’s exuberant contract as a reason for the Colts’ personnel issues, it still doesn’t ignore Grigson’s bad drafting and stupid free agent signings.
The best the Colts could do would be to fire their general manager and get someone with experience building a contender. However, that may require a terrible season, and barring a significant injury to Luck, that won’t happen.
DISMISSED: Seattle Seahawks loss
The Seahawks were one of the top-two teams in the NFC entering Sunday, and they are still a top-two team despite the uninspired loss to Jameis Winston and Co.
While many may rush to worry about the Seahawks following the loss, Seattle will be just fine. Sunday’s action was the result of a cross-country road trip intertwining with key injuries severely hamper Seattle. First, they were without Justin Britt, the starting center and only competent member of the Seattle offensive line. Also, they were without Earl Thomas who is the best player and leader of their defense. Furthermore, Michael Bennett, their best defensive lineman, was out, and C.J. Prosise, their electric running back, also missed the game.
With all those injuries, it was going to be difficult to go into Tampa Bay and get the win. While the Seahawks’ offensive line is certainly cause for a great deal of concern, Sunday didn’t introduce any new problems for Seattle, and they will be just fine as they try to get to another Super Bowl.